This has been a puzzle to me for many years. People I respect and support hold on to Facts that just aren’t true. But then what about me?
I really got a jolt from reading “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling. 10 Reasons We’re Wrong About the World… and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
The author has designed very simple questions to test our knowledge of current world facts that could impact decisions we make on business investments, charity work or even refugee approaches. The scary part is that well informed/educated leaders when asked these simple questions and given 3 choices of answers, rarely get more than 33% correct.
Example: World Wide, 30-year-old men have spent 10 years in school, on average.
How many years have women of same age spent in school?
- 9 years
- 6 years
- 3 years
(The answer is 9)
Read this book and whether you are a Business Executive planning Strategy or just a young person crafting your career, you come away challenged to consider how you examine the facts you use to make decisions.
Sometimes simple beliefs going back decades can be the easiest to see:
- The forbidden fruit in the bible is an apple
- Salt causes high blood pressure
- The Quran promises Martyrs 72 virgins
- Women cannot sell big ticket items
- By the age of two humans have generated all the brain cells they will ever have
- Humans only use 10% of their brains
- The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach
- Lighting never strikes the same place twice
- Brown eggs are better for you than white eggs
Just for fun, only one of the lines above is correct and one was put there just for my old friends at IBM.
For those of you who like to use Google to check facts, I have a story for you I saw on YouTube recently.
In an experiment three subjects were given an iPad and a challenge. One of the subjects was a “US Conservative”… one a “US Progressive”… and one an undecided voter. The challenge was to type the word “Egypt” into Google and see where it might go…
- The Progressive found material on the Arab spring and human rights violations
- The Conservative found material on the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism dangers
- The third person found travel brochures on the pyramids
It is true that social media will bias what you see based on your past searches and preferences. But we all also scan for facts and news that supports what we believe. Most of us to great lengths to avoid accepting information that challenges what we believe.
If you missed it, look at our Jolt from last week… Make Friends with Your Brain… It’s Making All Your Decisions!
If you have a leadership role you must manage change; and this means changing people and some of the beliefs they hold.
As I was writing this article, James Clear published… “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds”
He builds a compelling case… there are ways to change your beliefs and those of others.
- Humans are herd animals we want to fit in… we want to believe what our tribe or culture believes.
- Facts Don’t Change Our Minds. Friendship does. This is why we become closer to people when we share dinner and social interactions.
- It takes time, we may believe new facts from someone that we shared many common beliefs in the past.
- It’s easier to be open-minded when you aren’t feeling defensive. You won’t make progress reaching common ground if you make the other person feel challenged… they will hang on to their facts even stronger.
The big take away: You cannot change other’s beliefs with arguments or facts… and it starts one person at a time.
If video is your way to learn… There is a three minute video below that captures the concept… “Why Facts don’t win Arguments”